College Top 25 Chat: May 9

Moderator: Aaron Fitt will answer your college baseball questions beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Aaron Fitt: Good afternoon everybody! It was another great weekend in college baseball, the sun is shining here in Laguna Beach, I’m in high spirits and ready to go.

    josh (beaumont): Fsu,unc,gt,florida or texas!! Who gets a national seed out of this group?

Aaron Fitt: I’m still leaning toward the three teams I had as national seeds in last week’s stock report: Florida State, Florida and Texas.

    Greg (Los Angeles, CA): Are the Burins back?!

Aaron Fitt: I don’t know about the Burins, but the Bruins played pretty well this weekend! That was what I expected to see from them all season�simply dominating pitching and enough offense to get it done. Oregon’s had a rough year, but still, that’s a nice road series sweep for UCLA. I’ve never quit believing UCLA could be a very dangerous team in the postseason, and maybe it’s starting to come together for those guys.

    Shannon (Gainesville, FL): Big weekend coming up in terms of the SEC race. Who do you see winning the series in Nashville, going by pitching match-ups?

Aaron Fitt: Talked about this in today’s podcast at length: I think I’d give the edge to Vanderbilt. As great as Hudson Randall is, I’d give the edge to Sonny Gray on Friday, and Garvin gets the edge over Brian Johnson on Saturday. That’s going to be a heck of a series, but I like the home team.

    John (Greensboro, NC): What are your thoughts on UNCG and the run they have made in the recent weeks? They are sitting
    in second in the SoCon and have won eight of their last nine.

Aaron Fitt: Today’s Three Strikes (which should be posted shortly) delves into the success of the Spartans. I’m simply amazed that UNCG has won series against the four most talented teams in that league�Elon, Georgia Southern, Samford and College of Charleston, and the latter two were on the road. As Mike Gaski put it in today’s Three Strikes, Greensboro isn’t a sexy team, but it’s fundamentally solid, and it will be dangerous in the SoCon tournament.

    Joe (Lexington, SC): At what point does Micheal Roth get into the Pitcher of the Year conversation?

Aaron Fitt: He’s already there, Joe! He’s right on the short list of candidates, along with Trevor Bauer, Danny Hultzen and Taylor Jungmann, the way I see it. Roth is the strong favorite for SEC pitcher of the year honors. Amazing season!

    Shannon (Gainesville, FL): So the Gators dropped to No. 8 after a tough series loss in one of the toughest places
    to play in the country. Ouch. Even with the top-ranked RPI, give it to me straight — are they in danger of losing a national seed?

Aaron Fitt: No, I don’t think so. A three-spot drop for
losing two of three at Arkansas was admittedly harsh, but Florida has the same overall record as Texas and Florida State (which is, of course,
3-1 against the Gators this year), and the Longhorns and Sun Devils only have one series loss apiece, while Florida has two. That is why we dropped the Gators behind those teams.

    ScottAZ (Phx, AZ): Your person prediction: ASU will/will not participate in this year's postseason.
    Most people out here are pretty optimistic that the NCAA will drag their
    feet and not come to a decision by the May 16th cutoff thus allowing us
    to play

Aaron Fitt: I think they will participate in this year’s postseason, for the reason you suggest.

    Harry (Jackson): What do the Ole Miss Rebels have to do to get into the NCAA tourney with the home series against Moo
    U, @ARKY, and a possible Hoover trip left on the schedule? Thanks again for everything and HOTTY TODDY!!

Aaron Fitt: If the Rebels make it to Hoover, I think they’re in. If not, they still could squeeze their way in, but it will be dicey. Hoover is the goal. Winning that series against South Carolina
was absolutely huge for Ole Miss.

    Kurt (Tallahassee, FL): Thanks for taking our questions. Can you please explain how Arizona State jumped Florida State? Arizona State went 3-0 to Long Beach State (RPI 68) and 1-1 to BYU (RPI 127). While Florida State went 1-0 to Jacksonville (RPI 48) and 2-1 to UCF (RPI 28). Neither of Arizona States opponents even had a
    top 50 RPI. In fact, one was barely in the top 150. Normally, I would
    say that is just the typical west coast bias, but Florida State is a bubble team for one of the top eight seeds in the NCAA tournament. Your
    rankings figure considerably into the mix. Can you please explain?

Aaron Fitt: Arizona State was already ahead of Florida State in last week’s rankings, so we left them in that order — no jumping. The Sun Devils have been ahead of FSU since March 21, when FSU had that 1-3 week. Comparing the two, ASU has a 17-7 mark against the top 50 compared to FSU’s 13-9 mark, and ASU has just one series loss compared to two for FSU.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Has Winkler pitched himself into the first round yet, in your opinion? Or is he still more of a sandwich rounder?

Aaron Fitt: Probably a sandwich to second-rounder in this extremely deep draft class.

    Grant (NYC): In your gut, who goes off the board first at this point - Hultzen or Bauer?

Aaron Fitt: Toss a coin… my gut says Hultzen goes No. 3, Bauer shortly after. But who knows, at this point?

    Slim (TN): Does Southern Miss have a serious chance of being top 8 national seed?

Aaron Fitt: Absolutely. The biggest strike against Southern Miss is an 0-2 record against the top 25 in the RPI, but the rest of their vitals are strong, especially a 24-10 mark against the top
100, a gaudy RPI and overall record, and their strong position atop the
C-USA standings. USM probably needs to win that final series against Rice to really break into the top 8, though.

    Travis (Fort Worth TX): What do you make of the
    frogs losing with Winkler on the bump on Friday, then getting great performances from Mitchell and Miller to take two of three from OK state
    in Stillwater? Will this series win get the Frogs a regional for the third straight year? How do you see them doing in the post season if Maxwell and Purke return strong in the coming weeks, with the offense anchored by Rivera, Coats, Elander, and Featherston?

Aaron Fitt: The Frogs showed a lot of gumption this weekend, for sure. I watched the Sunday game on TV, and I was impressed with TCU’s offense, which did a really nice job driving the gaps and staying patient. That was a must-win series for TCU to have any shot at hosting, and now it’s right in the mix, although competition remains thick for those last few spots (Oklahoma and Arkansas might still have an edge over TCU because of the RPI, and OU’s head-to-head edge over TCU). Maxwell and Purke returning is obviously critical for TCU to make another deep run — not because Miller and Mitchell (who is a stud) aren’t capable starters, but because the staff lacks depth without Purke
and Maxwell. If you can then move Miller and Mitchell into bullpen or NO. 4 starter roles in the postseason, you’re in much better shape, I think.

    Jack (California): Hello. Love your responses to our questions. When you look at the polls, it is a surprise that no Big Ten Teams are listed. Michigan State is 30-14 and has been beating up on the rest of the Big Ten and everyone else they have played. Considering these teams have limited playing conditions for over the half the seasson and mostly develop late in their seasons, why aren't the Big Ten teams giving more consideraton. Another example is Minnesota. Late bloomers, having swept Indiana (when they had the highest RPI) and recently Michigan.

Aaron Fitt: Thanks for the kind words, Jack. Michigan State is the only Big Ten team in the top 25 discussion, and it was in the discussion this week, but an 0-1 record against the top 50 and just a
1-1 mark against the top 100 is tough to overcome. The Big Ten in general is down this year, so just sitting atop that conference is not enough to make Michigan State a top 25 team.

    Josh (Wilson, NC): What other players from Conference USA, beyond Anthony Rendon, have the potential to get drafted
    in the early rounds in the upcoming June draft?

Aaron Fitt: Certainly BA Vollmuth is going to be drafted pretty well, as one of the better power bats available in this college class. I see him as a top-two-rounds guy. Zach Wright and Mike Wright at ECU have gotten some buzz, but not in that elite category. Same goes for Dillon Napoleon and Ryan Woolley at UAB. Rendon and Vollmuth are probably the only real high picks.

    Eddie (Orlando): Any chance the A-Sun gets 3 bids, or is the longest survivor between Jacksonville and ETSU in the conference tournament going to be the only at-large team? Do you think that qualifying for the NCAA tournament should stop at the end of the regular season instead of giving schools a chance for a ''bonus'' round of strengthening profiles and resumes by playing in conference tournaments?

Aaron Fitt: I think three bids is possible if everything breaks right — if Jacksonville and ETSU both finish strong and all the favorites with at-large chances (like Fresno and TCU) win their conference tournaments, but two is more likely. The conference tournament isn’t really a bonus round — the leagues that don’t have conference tournaments are still playing regular season games that last weekend, so it wouldn’t be fair to give those teams an extra weekend to pad their resumes but not the teams that have to play conference tournaments.

    Luke (Atlanta): BA's bias for western teams is glaring. Arizona State jumps Florida State and Oregon State jumps Vandy
    (Really?). Vandy won the series (away series) and lost a game 2-0 when
    Alex Meyer pitched a CG and the losing pitcher went 8 and gave up two runs. Care to explain?

Aaron Fitt: I dare say YOUR bias against facts is glaring! Where did this notion come from that ASU jumped FSU? As I said earlier, the Sun Devils were already ahead, and Oregon State was already
ahead of Vandy. We considered jumping Vandy back over Oregon State this
week, but taking 2 of 3 against a 5-19 Kentucky team didn’t impress me more than Oregon State taking 2 of 3 from a talented and ranked Cal team, even though the Beavers also lost a midweek game.

    Jason (New Orleans): Hey, what are the Waves chances of getting an at-large bid if they finish out the regular season
    5-1 and getting to 3rd or 4th place in the CUSA league standing before the CUSA tournament begins? Thanks for the chats!

Aaron Fitt: Talked about this a little on today’s podcast — Tulane has quietly put itself back in the at-large hunt over these last two weekends with series wins against UAB and Memphis. There is still plenty of work to do, but Boyd’s RPI Needs Report says Tulane can finish inside the top 45 with a 6-0 finish. I think 5-1 might be enough, combined with a couple of wins in the conference tournament. The
rest of those C-USA teams keep beating each other up, and there’s not really a clear-cut fourth team ahead of Tulane in the pecking order (though I still like UCF’s chances better because of its RPI edge, thanks in part to those 2 midweek wins against Florida and a series win against Rice). Of course, Tulane won the head-to-head series at UCF… that league is awfully muddled after the top two; even ECU’s resume isn’t rock-solid, though the Pirates are in pretty good shape for an at-large spot.

    Neil (Texas): Aaron. Im not a cal fan, but dropping Cal out of the rankings after 3 close games against the #2 team
    in the country is a bit surprising.

Aaron Fitt: It’s not just based on this weekend. Cal is
just 3-11 against the Top 25 — that’s not getting it done. Cal beats the teams it should beat but does not beat the better teams it faces in the Pac-10. I still love Cal’s talent and believe that is a dangerous team, but its resume is not Top 25-caliber.

    James (Irvine): I know Irvine has a good record
    but their schedule has been really weak this year and they already lost
    a series to Fullerton. I know they took 2 of 3 from Cal Poly this weekend but should I have a concern about making the regionals?

Aaron Fitt: Yeah, UC Irvine is on the bubble, no question. The Big West is not very strong this year, leaving the Anteaters very little wiggle room in the RPI. Boyd’s RPI Needs Report says Irvine needs to finish 9-2 just to finish in the top 45. I think that’s doable, and I think Irvine is definitely a regional-caliber team,
and ultimately I think it will be in regionals, but it’s going to be close. We know the committee leans heavily on RPI in its deliberations…

    George (Fort Worth): If you were the manager of
    a team playing in game 3 of the best-of-3 cws championship series, and you could pick any pitcher in the country to give the ball to, who would
    it be?

Aaron Fitt: Taylor Jungmann has been my default answer to this question for maybe two years (after all, he was dominant against
LSU in the CWS Finals as a freshman), and he remains my choice. That guy is as dependable as it gets. He has dominating stuff, incredible feel for pitching and command, and world-class competitiveness.

    Josh (Mobile, AL): Hey Aaron, looks like our injuries finally hurt us. Do you think South Carolina needs to win their
    last two series to guarantee a National Seed, or can they afford to lose one of them? Also, do you think we should put Neff back as a starting pitcher? Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: I think South Carolina would need to completely collapse to fall out of national seed position. I don’t think
you’ll see Neff back as a starting pitcher; I don’t get the feeling he’s 100 percent healthy like he was earlier this year. I do think it’s fair to worry if Holmes and Koumas can continue to thrive as starters down the stretch the way they did early in the SEC season, but for now you have to give them the benefit of the doubt, I think.

    ScottAZ (Phx, AZ): Navery Moore's stats are pretty awesome. Any chance a pro team will try him as a starter?

Aaron Fitt: His stats are pretty awesome, you are right. I suppose someone could give him a shot as a starter, but he seems pretty special in that bullpen role — just attacks hitters with that power fastball and devastating power breaking ball.

    Steve L. (Corvallis): Who is the best No. 3 starter for the Beavers? Wetzler, Nygren or Schultz?

Aaron Fitt: I like Wetzler — really nice feel for pitching.

    TJ (Westchester, NY): What do you think are the draft position's for UCONN's George Springer and Matt Barnes?

Aaron Fitt: Both still locks for the top 15, I think, and strong candidates to go in the top 10, though competition is fierce in the top 10.

    Nick (Tallahassee, FL): Florida State seems to be in a somewhat good position, even though they don't have a solid #2 weekend starter and subpar hitting. What can you attribute to this?

Aaron Fitt: Great coaching, as usual, and I do not agree that their hitting is “subpar”. Maybe you don’t see the kind of numbers you’re used to seeing from Florida State, but in the context of the new bats, it’s still a very good offense. They grind out at-bats and
work up pitch counts, as they always do, and they’ve got experienced hitters who use the gaps very well and can drive the ball out of the park — I love that core with McGee, Ramsey, Travis and Boyd. Moving McGee into the starting rotation was the right move, too. By the end of the season, FSU should have a solid one-two punch with him and Gilmartin, and Hunter Scantling has shown enough flashes this year to believe he could be a third capable starter in the postseason.

    Bob (Chicago, IL): Aaron, CCU is in the midst of 37 straight innings w/o allowing a run. Is that impressive, or does the fact that it is all against Big South teams make it meaningless?

Aaron Fitt: It’s certainly not meaningless — it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, it’s very difficult to throw four straight shutouts in baseball, especially with metal bats (even diminished ones). Radford has a winning record, too. Coastal seems to be
peaking at the right time.

    Jim (North Carolina): Who are you top 3 highest drafted Seniors in this class?

Aaron Fitt: In no particular order, I’ll go with Cody Martin, Cole Green and Tyler Wilson.

    Andy (GreenvilleSC): Clemson has been rather hot lately winning 18 of their last 21 games including a huge series win
    agianst Ga. Tech. It seems to be they have found a solid weekend rotation with Leone, Meyer, and Sarat and hope getting Brady back soon. What do you think their odds are of host a regional and super regional? Maybe even getting a national seed? (Even though that is dreaming quite big)

Aaron Fitt: Yes, Clemson has put it together, as you had to believe it would. It just took some time to figure out the pitching, but now it’s in pretty good shape. I do think a national seed is dreaming too big, despite the RPI, but Clemson has moved past Miami as the fifth potential host out of the ACC (Miami tumbled to around No. 20 after this Hofstra weekend, while Clemson remains inside the top 10).
The Tigers probably need UNC or Georgia Tech to falter down the stretch
to host, though. It helps that UNC’s remaining schedule is challenging,
but remember that Clemson still must travel to Florida State. If the Tigers win that series, they could muscle their way into hosting position regardless of what the Tar Heels and Yellow Jackets do. Should be an interesting race.

    CD (Columbus): Is Josh Dezse of Ohio State the best two way freshman in the country? Upper 90's FB and batting around .360. Future 1st rounder??

Aaron Fitt: From what I’ve gathered, Dezse sounds very special — he showed power stuff even before arriving at Ohio State, and
he very well might find himself in that first-round range in two years.
Also got a strong chance for freshman All-America honors this spring.

    Don Williams (Texarkana,Texas): What is your thoughts on Coach Wayne Graham reaching 900 wins at a school like Rice in twenty years ? I think it is an unbelivable acheivment given their high standerds and the size of the school. I don't think he is recoginzed as he should be on a national level.

Aaron Fitt: He’s one of the great coaches in college baseball history, and we’ve been saying it for a very long time.

    Joe (Nashville): Aaron, I know you look forward
    to getting this question every week but wouldn't it make sense for Vanderbilt to be ranked #2 and OSU #3 since OSU lost twice last week and
    VU lost only once? It just looks sort of odd for a team with 11 losses to be sitting ahead of a team with 6 losses. Is it that Vanderbilt's incredibly weak schedule that BA doesn't respect? Just wondering...

Aaron Fitt: BA has no respect for the Commodores, that’s what it comes down to! It’s downright insulting to have Vandy ranked No. 3, behind two other teams that are also in first place in power conferences and have not lost a weekend series all year! Any time you take 2 of 3 from a team that is 5-19 in its conference, you DESERVE to jump ahead of a team that won 2 of 3 from a very talented (and ranked) Cal team! There is no other reasonable position on this. The only explanation is BIAS! (How’s that? Just telling you what you want to

    Matthew (Statesboro): Hey Aaron, thanks for taking my question. I was wondering what you thought Victor Roache of Georgia Southern stock was in the 2012 draft. He obviously has the power
    to play at the next level. He has become much more patient at the plate
    with pitchers not trying to give him something to hit out of the park. What does he need to do or improve to have the scouts move him up the 1st round? Thanks

Aaron Fitt: It’s too early to talk about 2012 draft stock — scouts haven’t been bearing down on that, and neither have we. But I can tell you that Roache has legit, monstrous power, and that’s the kind of tool that could carry him into the first round. He arrived at Georgia Southern as a pretty raw Michigan high school product, and his approach has improved by leaps and bounds. Special talent.

    Cari (Jacksonville, Florida): Do you see Florida sophomore catcher Mike Zunino making a run for SEC Player of the
    Year? His conference numbers are ridiculous at .430/.485/.699 to go along with 27 runs/13 doubles/4 HRs/22 RBI. He was pretty good last year
    but these stats are shaping him up to be a first-rounder next summer.

Aaron Fitt: Real strong candidate for SEC POY — in fact, he might be the favorite, maybe a tick ahead of Aaron Westlake and
Christian Walker (Mikie Mahtook is fading in this discussion, I think) because of his position and what he’s been able to do in conference play. I said in today’s podcast that if the season ended today, Zunino would be my choice for first-team All-American at catcher. As for the 2012 draft, forget about the stats — his tools make him a very likely first-round pick. He’s an elite catch-and-throw guy with real power potential. Great package.

    Michael (Dallas): Aaron Westlake has been the best hitter on one of the best teams in college baseball. No one ever talks about him as being a top prospect or a key component of the team. Where is the love for the Vandy first baseman?

Aaron Fitt: I talk all the time about my affinity for Westlake — where’ve you been, Michael? He’s big and physical with a beautiful lefthanded swing and serious power potential — I even said recently on a podcast, I believe, that I think he’s one of the very best
power bats in this draft. I think he’ll be a top-two-rounds pick, maybe
a sandwich pick, and he’ll be an All-American.

    FridayNightAss (Texass): My coworkers are asking me why I'm staring at a screen with a photo of a man's tight, padded undergarments. What should I tell them?

Aaron Fitt: Tell them you’re above distraction.

    Greg (New York): Hey Aaron,any chance Lindor or Springer will go in the top five or is that too much to ask,thanks.....

Aaron Fitt: I’d say there’s a chance with both those guys, sure — both have serious raw tools. But the 5-12 range is probably more likely for both, just because the top of this draft is so loaded with high-upside safe bets on the mound.

    Rich (Denver): Can you address the disparity between rankings and RPI for certain teams - in particular TCU. Which system is broken or is it a little of both? How do you see TCU or other
    similar teams seeded?

Aaron Fitt: The RPI works against teams in “mid-major” conferences, that’s just how it is. I think that’s a major flaw in the RPI. It doesn’t matter how good those teams are, if they don’t play a power conference schedule, it is very hard for them to break into the upper reaches of the RPI.

    Bill (hamilton,nj): Couple of one bid conferences...Colonial, American East, MAAC and Atlantic 10. All have teams that could pull an upset in first round. Who do you see coming out and making the NCAA"s in each league?

Aaron Fitt: I’ll go with James Madison, Stony Brook (feel very confident in that one), Manhattan and Charlotte.

    Kevin (Myrtle Beach, SC): Any chance Coastal can earn themselves a #2 seed in a regional, they have been pitching more consistently with 4 consecutive shut outs (yes against Big South competition)?

Aaron Fitt: With an 0-7 mark against the top 50 and an RPI in the 40s, Coastal looks more like a No. 3 seed to me.

    Jeff (Columbia, SC): What can dislodge Virginia? The lose to a vastly inferior opponent and get a "well they won the series". Now the ACC gives it teams a week off when other conferences are battling for tourney position (a meaningless concept in the round robin ACC where no tourney team is eliminated and there is a mercy rule.) The SEC teams fight week in and week out and cannot dislodge a team from an inferior conference whose only defense seems to be "They were number 1 first." Please spell out how Va. can lose the number one spot?

Aaron Fitt: 56 games is 56 games — it doesn’t matter how you get there. Virginia has shown off its depth over and over again in four- and five-game weeks — why punish them for taking a week off for exams, like lots of teams (SEC excluded) do? What will it take for them to lose the top spot? How about a single week where they lose more than one game? Hasn’t happened all year. And Virginia is unbeaten in 6 separate weeks, not counting last week where it only played one game.

    Mark (Florida): Do you think Stetson will host a regional?

Aaron Fitt: Absolutely.

    Matt (Jackson, MS): What are your thoughts on Southern Miss Soph. P Geoffrey Thomas? He is 10-2 with a 2.56 era and has improved dramatically since last season. Out of high school he was drafted in the 12th round by the Astros. Any early indications as to where he may possibly go after next season?

Aaron Fitt: Thomas is a legit four-pitch guy who can run it up there to 93-94 mph (though he pitches around 89-90), to go along with a curveball, cutter and changeup. The biggest reason for his jump this year has been dramatically improved command, but he also has a
terrific mound presence, and the team behind him really feeds off that.
Haven’t gauged his draft stock yet — too early for that — but he’ll go a lot higher than the 12th round this time around.

    Andrew (Minneapolis, MN): With the Big Ten as poor as it is, the only NCAA bid seems to be coming from the Big Ten tournament winner. Everyone seems to be riding high on Michigan St. right now, but would it surprise you if Minnesota or Purdue ends up winning the tourney and the bid?

Aaron Fitt: I could see Minnesota pulling it off, but I
think Michigan State proved it is considerably better than Purdue this weekend. That will be a one-bid league; I’m sticking the the Spartans, with the Gophers as my darkhorse.

    Kevin Towers (Arizona): I have two picks at #'s
    3 and 7 in this upcoming major league draft..I want Trevor Bauer at three cause I think he's available no doubt but I am looking for Jed Bradley at #7.. What would be your choice of a lefty righty combo at 3 and 7.

Aaron Fitt: Bauer at 3 and Bradley at 7 could make good
sense. Or Hultzen at 3 and Jungmann or Barnes at 7 — I’d be fine either way, if you want to take a college LHP and a college RHP. This is
a GREAT draft to have two picks in the top seven.

    Levi (Texas): Any love for Princeton locking up the first automatic bid into the tournament?

Aaron Fitt: Check today’s Three Strikes, which is now posted on the College Blog!

Aaron Fitt: OK folks, that’s all for today. Thanks for the fun questions!